Are you dreaming of visiting the quintessential southern city with its beautiful squares, historic river views, and elegant accommodations? Look no further. These fun things to do in Savannah, Georgia, include all those and more. There are many reasons why this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South.
In this blog post, we will explore why you should visit Savannah and the best things to do in the city that will delight your senses, uncover its rich history and culture, and allow you to unwind in luxurious accommodations. First up, my favorite Savannah category is food and drink.
FYI: Savannah and neighboring Tybee Island were our stomping grounds when our daughters were young. We vacationed there so many times. I went back after a decade of hiatus. While there are plenty of new things to see and do, the city was just how I remembered—hauntingly lovely, sophisticated, and still overloaded with historical attractions.
Delight your Senses with Food and Drinks
Savannah is considered a foodie paradise, offering a range of delightful dishes to please every palate. Break for lunch at the Gryphon to indulge in a delicious slice of quiche or classic chicken salad while enjoying the elegant décor of the historic 1920s pharmacy. Gryphon is the premier dining venue of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
For coffee lovers, the eclectic Gallery Espresso is a must-visit. This cozy spot serves the best coffee in town, and you can browse local artwork at the same time. From cafe au lait to an Americano, Turkish coffee to macchiato, they have it all, which is excellent.
For a sweet treat, stop by Broughton Street for Leopold’s ice cream parlor, a Savannah institution since 1919. Sample their creamy, award-winning ice cream or have a classic dish like the banana split. Flavor profiles include Rum Bisque (with baked almond macaroons), Peppermint, Chocolate Chewies and Cream, and Peanut Butter Chippy, to name a few.
The best way to explore the city’s culinary scene is to book a food tour with Savannah Taste Experience. You’ll sample the best of Savannah’s seafood, Low-country cuisine, and sweets. On my tour, we had BBQ and fried green tomatoes at Savannah Smokehouse BBQ & Brew, gator sliders from B&D Burgers, Conquistador sandwiches from Zunzi’s, a delicious baked meat pie from The Little Crown by Pie Society, and shrimp & grits from 22 Square Restaurant, also our starting point.
Add on one of Savannah’s signature drinks, such as sweet tea, a mint julep, or a peach cobbler martini, all delicious and refreshing, to whatever meal you enjoy.
Explore the History and Culture of Savannah
Savannah boasts a rich history and culture, and there is no better place to explore it than in the city’s museums and historic sites. The American Prohibition Museum offers a unique (holograms!) and interactive experience that transports you back to the Jazz Age. Learn about the still-talked-about alcohol ban from 1920 to 1933 through the Prohibition Museum’s 20 exhibits and displays in this well-done, family-friendly space. Allow time to enjoy the speakeasy.
The Telfair Museum showcases a collection of contemporary art in its historic mansion, the oldest in the south. The 1819 two-story mansion and furnishings were bequeathed to the Georgia Historical Society in 1875. On display are 19th and 20th-century artwork, furniture, and silver. You can find the iconic Bird Girl statue (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame) at the Telfair, initially in the Bonaventure Cemetery.
Fun Fact: The house from John Berendt’s novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the Mercer Williams House Museum, always has a crowd outside. You can see it at 429 Bull Street. Jim Williams restored and lived in the elegant house that was supposedly haunted and featured on the Ghost City tours.
If you want a family-friendly activity, the Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace Museum, is a fascinating stop. As a leader for ten years or more, I enjoy visiting this stop every time I’m in Savannah. It takes on a much different light at night during a ghost tour.
Besides museums, there are numerous landmarks and historic sites to visit, such as Forsyth Park, the Bonaventure Cemetery, and 22 distinct squares, a place to go to enjoy your morning coffee and the weather and participate in special events. In the springtime, the camellias are stunning.
Walking, ghost, and carriage tours are great ways to see Savannah’s rich past.
Forsyth Square, Savannah’s oldest and largest, boasts 30 acres of picture-perfect green space with Spanish moss, vibrant blooms, and an iconic fountain. It is one of Savannah’s most photographed spots, named after the Georgia Governor at the time.
Savannah hosts several annual events and festivals representing the city’s unique flavor, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Savannah Music Festival, Savannah Book Festival, and Coastal Jazz Association Jazz Festival.
Two Unique Ways to Experience Savannah
Experience the allure of Savannah in two incredible ways – aboard a captivating double-decker bus or on an enchanting riverboat cruise. Embark with Old Savannah Tours, offering a seamless hop-on-and-off trolley experience that showcases the city’s squares, Clary’s Cafe, Sorrel Weed House, and Pirate’s House.
With convenience and flexibility, explore at your own pace and capture stunning photo opportunities. The trolleys depart every 15-20 minutes, ensuring you never miss a moment. This tour welcomes pets, too.
If you’re like me and love a river adventure, indulge in the grace and elegance of Victorian-style riverboats with Savannah Riverboat Cruises. Discover the history and beauty of Savannah as you delight in a narrated tour accompanied by breathtaking views of the skyline and the iconic riverfront.
Savannah Riverboat Cruises offers an array of dining experiences, including lunch, dinner, and a delectable Sunday brunch aboard the Georgia Queen. Feast on Southern fried chicken, spiral ham, shrimp & grits, salads, desserts, and more, all served buffet-style.
With a capacity of up to 1,000 passengers, the Georgia Queen guarantees your comfort with reserved dining tables and climate-controlled cabins. Explore the boat freely and choose your preferred seating while enjoying refreshing drinks available for purchase throughout the entire cruise. My husband and I gave this experience a 10!
Note Savannah’s Gorgeous Architecture
Experience the charm of Savannah through its magnificent architectural wonders. From exquisitely adorned churches and cathedrals to the picturesque courthouse and historic buildings, this city stands out amongst its Southern counterparts.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a gem, radiating even more incredible beauty at night. Behold the stunning basilica captured from the balcony of my hotel room.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit or simply appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship of other famous Savannah churches, including St. John’s Episcopal Church, Wesley Monumental Church, First African Baptist Church, Christ Church, Temple Mickve Israel, and Trinity United Methodist.
Pro Tip: One of Savannah’s coolest “treasures” is the jewel box-looking store at 307 Bull Street. We visited long ago when it was a year-round Christmas store, but it is now home to Artillerybar, a restored landmark with an eye-catching cocktail bar.
Shop Savannah for Unique Souvenirs and Gifts
Savannah is known for its unique and eclectic shopping. The city offers various specialty stores perfect for souvenir shopping or finding that extraordinary something. You’ll find it here from art galleries, clothing boutiques, and home décor shops.
Antiques are primo, and I cannot think of anywhere better in America to explore the high-end and unique offerings than Savannah. Though the names of shops change over the years, we found the best buys on Bull and Waters Streets.
At the Paris Market, you can find everything from vintage postcards to unique home accessories. Other items you’ll find at miscellaneous boutiques include pottery, pralines, gourmet chocolates, and books. Our favorite chocolate shop is none other than Chocolat by Adam Turoni. The stunning displays of exquisite chocolates tucked away in antique-style bookshelf curios are a feast for your eyes, and his candies for your stomach. The red velvet cake truffles were my top pick.
A visit to Savannah would only be complete with treating yourself to the local specialty – a hand-woven Sweetgrass Basket. Or, if you prefer a foodie parting gift, I recommend Byrd’s Cookies. The delectable bite-size cookies come in a dozen flavors and are so good, you should go ahead and buy double. My faves are the Georgia Peach Cookies, Key Lime Coolers, and Scotch Oatmeal Cookies.
Need more to do in the area? How about a visit to Florida’s Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island? This charming area is only two hours from Savannah.
Portions of my Savannah trip were hosted by Visit Savannah and Historic Hotels of America. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
Relax and Unwind in Elegant Accommodations
Savannah is a perfect place to unwind and relax, and there’s no better way to do so than to stay in one of the city’s elegant accommodations. There are plenty of luxurious hotels, bed and breakfasts, and historic inns in the city’s downtown area.
One of my favorites is the Desoto Hotel, an 1890 Historic Hotels of America property that epitomizes low-country luxe and Southern hospitality. This gorgeous property has a pool terrace, excellent city views, and noteworthy food and drink options. Chic hotel rooms boast premium bedding, contemporary fixtures, and large windows adorned with blackout shades. The bathroom has an extravagant shower and high-end toiletries for your utmost comfort.
Fire pits and fountains add to the ambiance of the cabana bar on the pool terrace, where you can savor craft cocktails. Lush palm trees sway, further enhancing the “vacation” vibe.
Check out the Hamilton-Turner Inn, a 19th-century mansion in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District, for more historic ambiance. The Planters Inn is a prime example of antebellum architecture, featuring high ceilings, ornate moldings, and a serene courtyard. I’ve had friends encounter ghosts here. And we cannot miss mentioning the cool, retro Thunderbird Inn property, the “hippest hotel in Savannah.”
Savannah Hits a Home Run
Overall, Savannah is a destination that appeals to first-time and repeat travelers who appreciate history, culture, food, and hospitality. Following these blog post suggestions, you can create a comprehensive trip to Georgia’s perfect southern address. Come for the history, river views, shopping, and gorgeous squares, but stay because you fell in love with this iconic city.
See other things to do in Georgia in these posts: